JVC DLA-RS20 - Competitors
How does the JVC DLA-RS20 compare to other 1080p home theater projectors on the market? We consider the practical and performance differences, and try to provide a good perspective.
DLA-RS20 vs. Epson Home Cinema 6500UB, Pro 7500UB
The obvious first! The RS20 is well over twice the price of the Home Cinema 6500UB, and almost double that of the Pro Cinema 7500UB. If you can get past the significantly higher price of the RS20, here's how they stack up:
While the Epson's have the best black levels of any of the lower cost projectors, they still come up short compared to the DLA-RS20, or for that matter, even the less expensive DLA-RS10. Dark shadow detail performance also slightly favors the JVC, although, slight is the operative term. I seriously doubt anyone would rationalize the expense of the RS20 on the basis of shadow detail performance alone.
On a fully dark image (pause indicator notwithstanding), The JVC demonstrates its better black levels (on the right). Also because projectors like the Epson use dynamic irises, they do allow some "brightness" compression when only a very small amount of the image is white or near white. As a result, not only does the JVC have "blacker blacks" but, based on the the difference in the pause indicator, bright areas will not be as bright.
In the next image, click for a larger, more overexposed version. This is a far more typical "dark scene" than simply showing a black screen, and as a result the differences are harder to spot. While the Epson does a great job, you can see in the rooftops, and sky that the JVC still wins the day!
When it comes to sharpness, I'll give the Epson's a slight advantage, as well. The de-focusing issue of the Epson's weighs in here as well. If your Epson is focused after it is warmed up, it can create a touch better sharpness. Pixel alignment will be a factor as well, when it comes to sharpness, so that a JVC with excellent pixel alignment, may well appear a bit sharper than an Epson whose pixel alignment is off a little more. Either way, the Epsons and the JVC's are in the same general place in sharpness. Neither brands are quite as sharp as the sharpest of the 1080p projectors, such as the InFocus IN83, and typically, several other DLP projectors.
Being more "film-like" is an advantage of the RS20. This is to a degree about personal taste, rather than a definitive advantage. Epson offers a lot of pop and wow to their image, which also makes it a touch less film-like. The RS20's THX mode, for example, I found to be a bit flat (lacking the more dynamic look of the Epson projector).
If you are interested in going with an anamorphic solution, that takes the 6500UB out of the equation, since it lacks internal support for an anamorphic lens. Sure, you can solve that with an outboard processor, but it would be less expensive to just buy the 7500UB (which has the support).
The Epsons offer a touch more placement flexibility, but the very small difference probably wouldn't impact the decision of more than a couple of percent of the people considering these choices.
The RS20 has motorized focus, zoom, and lens shift. That's always nice to have - consider, it's a bitch to get a perfect focus with the Epson projectors when you are 15-20 feet back from the screen when focusing the projector. With the JVC, using its remote control, you can do the focus with your eyes no more than one foot from the screen.
The Epson's have taken some "hits" in reviews (like mine) and on the forums for some significant issues with their frame interpolation methods, but then JVC, like most manufacturers, don't do any creative frame interpolation. Actually as it turns out, the serious Epson issues tend to relate to creative frame interpolation of 24fps movies, to 120hz, creating 4 new frames between each two original frames. The only other projectors pushing creative frame interpolation (the Sanyo PLV-Z3000 and Panasonic PT-AE3000), don't even make the attempt. Neither adds more than one creative frame, and only from 60fps sources, not Blu-ray movies at 24fps.
So, if you like creative frame interpolation for sports, the Epson has it for you, and does it fairly well. For movie watching, using 4:4 the Epson offers 96fps compared to the 48fps of the JVC RS20.
Brightness is a trade-off, depending on your own viewing requirements. The JVC is substantially brighter than the Epson in best mode, while the Epson projectors are roughly twice as bright as the JVC RS10 when comparing brightest mode. In terms of screen size, whereas the limited brightness of the Epson projectors' best mode, limits you to screens of 110" diagonal or less, with most normal screens (gain of 1.4 or less). On the other hand, the JVC can handle my 128" diagonal screen, with lumens to spare for movie viewing. The JVC has enough for sports and HDTV viewing filling my whole screen, with goog lighting control, without fully darkening the room. By comparison the Epson, in brightest mode handles my room and screen rather effortlessly, compared to the JVC.
Bottom line: Similar placement flexibility, sharpness, general features, but the JVC is a bit more film-like than the Epson (at least the 6500UB, as I haven't worked with the 7500UB which can be more finely calibrated). While the Epson's black level performance is excellent, the JVC is simply the best. Also, since the Epsons rely on a dynamic iris, when the iris is working hardest on very dark scenes, it compresses the brightest areas slightly, so the JVC has more dynamic range at both ends of the brightness spectrum on dark scenes.
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. Mitsubishi HC7000
I haven't had an HC7000 here while working with the RS20. The Mitsubishi, however stacks up this way. It is quieter. It has a slightly sharper image. It's not anywhere near as bright in best mode, and, for that matter, it's not as bright in brightest mode either. The HC7000 is a great projector for small screens (best for 100" diagonal or less). It's black levels are similar, but not quite as good as the Epson 6500UB discussed above, so the JVC has the advantage there, but, like the Epson, the Mitsubishi does offer excellent black level performance.
Shadow detail is about comparable.
When it comes to out of the box image quality, the Mitsubishi is "respectable" but a calibration is needed for best results. Calibrating the HC7000 is easy compared to the RS20. While we also strongly urge a calibraton of the RS20, it should be noted that the RS20's out of the box THX mode is definitely superior to the best mode the Mitsubishi can muster out of the box.
The Mitsubishi HC7000 like the RS20 does not do creative frame interpolation. I do believe the HC7000 takes a 24fps source up to 48, while the JVC goes to 96. I don't consider this to be a significant advantage, except to some sensitive to one type of motion blur.
The JVC has a slight advantage in placement flexibility.
Price is the biggest single difference. The Mitsubishi most likely is being sold by local dealers for a bit more than half the JVC's price, making it more a competitor of the RS10, than the RS20. Also in Mitsubishi's favor is longer overall lamp life. Actually both are rated 2000 hours at full power, but the Mitsubishi claims 5000 hours in low lamp. Better ask yourself, though, considering the lower brightness of the Mitsubishi, if you will have the room/screen setup that really allows you to run in economy mode, due to the low lumens.
Bottom Line: While not direct competitors, both are good values at their price points. The Mitsubishi will appeal to those on tighter budgets, with smaller screens and who prefer a virtually silent projector with a very sharp image!
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. BenQ W20000
This comparison is giving me the most headaches, because ithe W20000 is an extremely good DLP projector, but one I haven't had here in a long time. It's sharp, it's one of the few DLP's with lens shift, and a lens though limited in zoom range, has a long enough throw to allow many folks to shelf mount. Still the JVC has far more zoom range, and more lens shift, but if you prefer to shelf mount, and the W20000 works in your room, the extra range of the JVC isn't relevant.
I'm historically a big BenQ fan, having owned successive BenQ projectors for about 4 years, before buying a JVC about two years ago. They really do a good implementation.
The JVC is a touch quieter in terms of image noise. Completely separate, the JVC is also noticeably quieter in terms of audible noise.
The BenQ image, however is very sharp - definitely a crisper, sharper look than the JVC, and like the IN83 from InFocus, the BenQ W20000 sharpness really adds something when watching HDTV, especially sports and those travelogue, science, interest, and other HDTV content, that provide spectacular imagery. The W20000 is a little more like looking through a window (at the Grand Canyon, or a tropical island, or the international space station).
Black levels are the achilles heel of the W20000, but only by comparison to the RS20. The BenQ's black level performance is very good for a Darkchip3 DLP projector, and more so if you can stop the manual iris down.
The two projectors are roughly the same in brightness, with the JVC having an advantage in "best" mode. In brightest modes, the BenQ should have the slight advantage with Brilliant Color turned on, which is exactly how we would recommend using it when ambient light is present.
BenQ gives you an extra year warranty (three years), plus they have a first year replacement program. Like JVC, BenQ seems to have very good build quality, and good reliability. A past "trial" with defective lamp problems with an old 720p projector, saw BenQ really stepping up and upgrading firmware and lamps in every projector of that model that they sold, until the fixed the issue months later. JVC to my knowledge has never faced such a task. Still it's nice to know that BenQ came through for their owners.
If you like that DLP feel of depth, and a good amount of "pop and wow", the BenQ is a serious, lower cost competitor for the RS20 (or really, the RS10).
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z3000
I'm not going to say much here. Because of brightness differences, and black level performance, these are not even close to being competitors. The Sanyo PLV-Z3000 has the weakest black levels of the top of the line "ultra high contrast" LCD projectors, so while still very good, their black levels are no match at all for the RS20. When it comes to brightness the Z3000 is actually a little brighter in brightest mode than the JVC, but the JVC has roughly double the lumens in it's best mode, when both have their iris's open.
The Sanyo is a really good projector for the bucks, and has a three year warranty, but the only time someone might seriously consider both, is if they are torn between spending a little now, and planning a major upgrade in a year or two, and they are a smaller screen user.
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. Optoma HD81-LV
It's probably been two years since we reviewed the HD81-LV, so I'm relying on notes and the HD81-LV review, more than memory.
The HD81-LV is a screamer - brightest single chip DLP around, and brighter than the JVC in any comparable mode. Got a really big screen, and if you aren't a "purist" the HD81-LV pops and really wows you. I do remember my first impression once I had it properly set up. It was something like "finally a projector that looks good, and doesn't even consider my 128" screen to be a challenge. Its colors are rich, well saturated (though sometimes over the top), and have good depth. The JVC is simply far more refined an image, not quite as bright.
When it comes to black levels, the Optoma is a typical Darkchip3 DLP projector, and no match for the RS20 (and for that matter the RS10). Optoma HD81-LV owners will, like RS20 owners, want to get their projector properly calibrated. Want that 150" diagonal screen, start taking a serious look at the HD81-LV.
Price wise, street on the HD81-LV has been hard to track but it definitely should be findable for a bit less than the RS20.
Placement flexibility is a chronic weakness of most Optoma projectors. No lens shift, and a 1.2:1 zoom, so it's strictly a ceiling mount projector, and it has a lot of lens offset, requiring it to sit a about 18 inches above the top of your screen. The sad thing about that is that if you want that huge screen 130" or larger, and you don't have high ceilings (at least 10 foot) it just won't work for you. With a 130" diagonal screen, the Optoma mounted pretty much flush to the ceiling, will have the bottom of the screen only about 24 inches off the floor with a 10 foot ceiling, or 12 inches with a 9. If you have an eight foot ceiling and want 130 inch diagonal, you'll need a shovel.
The Optoma is also is one of the noisier 1080p projectors out there in terms of audible noise, definitely a notch noisier than the JVC.
For folks who are more into HDTV/Sports than movies, who want a really large screen, and have the room to mount the Optoma, it is worthy of consideration, but for movie purists the JVC is the way to go.
DLA-RS20 vs. InFocus IN83
Very interesting competition here. The IN83 is an excellent DLP projector with Darkchip4. The IN83 I have here still does the best overall color of any of the current 1080p projectors I've reviewed, doing our normal calibration. Even with the CMS settings we are using for the RS20 (and we didn't do anything but grayscale balance, brightness, contrast and gamma, for the IN83), the InFocus still has the advantage in skin tones and overall color. It's the kind of difference where the RS20 looks great, and everyone is happy, until put side by side with the IN83, then it's - the RS20 looks great, but the IN83 does better.
That's only until you hit the first dark scene, and the JVC RS20's black levels just destroy the IN83's best on those dark scenes. Black levels aren't even close, as you can see from these three side by side images. The first is simply a black image (between scenes). Since neither projector uses a dynamic iris, what you see, is what you get. Remember we overexpose these images (to varying degrees) to make the differences easy to see (JVC is on the right side in all of these images):
Here's a logo at the startup of The Dark Knight:
Next is a scene with almost no bright areas, from Men In Black. This is an excellent example of the difference in black level handling between these two. The first pair is more overexposed to show differences, the second is closer to what you will see on your screen:
More from The Dark Knight (again image immediately below intentionally overexposed:
And here's a good comparison of a daytime image, with skin tones (This image is unintentionally a little overexposed - sorry):
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. Panasonic PT-AE3000
More so than any other projector, the Panasonic PT-AE3000 is a poor man's JVC RS20 (or more realistically a poor man's RS10). The 3LCD Panasonic is smooth and natural looking once properly set up. While it's black levels can't match the JVC's and trail slightly, the Epson 6500UB, the Panasonic is a bit more film like than the more "pop and wow" image of the Epson, and in that regard, more similar to the JVC RS20. The Panasonic relies on a dynamic iris for its extremely good black level performance, and like other such projectors, does compress small bright areas on mostly dark scenes, for a little less dynamic look.
The Panasonic is every bit as good, and perhaps a touch better in shadow detail (in other words, excellent). The Panasonic is very good out of the box. OK, perhaps not as good as the RS20's THX mode, but very good, none-the-less.
Brightness in best mode definitely favors the JVC, as the Panasonic can't handle as large a screen, due to having far less lumens in best mode. In brightest mode, however, the two are pretty much equal. While pixel structure is not a real issue with 1080p projectors, the Panasonic is the one projector with even less pixel visibility than the LCoS projectors like the JVC. Sharpness is roughly comparable, with the JVC I have here, having a slight edge over the PT-AE3000 unit I have.
The Panasonic is also slightly quieter in terms of audible noise, and will appeal to those few who are really adverse to any noticeable fan noise.
The Panasonic has a very good creative frame interpolation scheme for 30/60 sources, which the JVC lacks. Sports fans might take note of that. Both take a 24fps image to 96!
The Panasonic has their interesting "pseudo anamorphic lens emulation" (my ridiculous term for describing its ability to work with 2.35:1 "Cinemascope" screens without an anamorphic lens), which makes it an even better price deal for those who want to go real widescreen. (It's not as good as using an anamorphic lens, but does save thousands!)
If you are looking, overall, for something along the lines of the RS20 (or RS10) but not anywhere near as expensive, but still an excellent projector, the Panasonic is definitely one of the best choices - if you have enough lumens for your room and screen.
Note, while I haven't taken any side by sides between these two projectors, look for side by sides between the Panasonic and the JVC DLA-RS10 in that JVC's forthcoming review (due to publish 2/09).
Bottom line: The Panasonic, is, as I mentioned above, well described as a poor man's JVC. In that, it is similar to the Sony HW10, but even less expensive. The Panasonic is an excellent choice for well less than half the price of the RS20, and it has some nice extras, but it is still a real step below the RS20.
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. JVC DLA-RS2, DLA-RS10
Let's start with the RS20 vs. the older RS2 it is replacing. The short version is this: The RS20 is dramatically brighter!
The CMS, etc. will allow slightly better overall color, but a calibration is very tricky, which is why we published CMS settings done by two guys on the forums (one did the bulk of the work the other figured out how to improve on it). Together - between 60 and 80 hours work. (I wonder if they have time to watch movies?)
However, they also tell me, that, while grayscale balance will vary from projector to projector, good CMS will be essentially unchanged from one projector to another. Thus, the CMS settings we published, should be most helpful. Those guys are still not completely satisfied, and I expect they will further revise over the next month or two. (they haven't had their RS20's very long, of course.) If they send me better settings, I'll update the review, and or put up a blog about it.
JVC has stayed with Silicon Optix Reon processing (the RS20 probably has a slightly newer version), but there were no significant issues with the older processing in the RS1 and RS2) at least I've never had a complaint with 1500 hours on my RS1.
That pretty much covers it. If you want an anamorphic solution, I'm waiting to hear back if JVC's is ready. The one they offered for the RS2 can't get close enough (with that setup's lens sled) to work with the RS20, which has the lens further recessed.
Black levels may be a hair better on the RS20, but without an RS2 for a side by side, hard to say. Any improvement is going to be slight - far less, than say between the RS2 and RS1, or RS20 and RS10. "Incremental improvement" probably would describe it.
So, ultimately, the RS20 should, with an optimum calibration, do a bit better in terms of color accuracy, skin tones, etc., than the RS2, but it really comes down to brightness. If you have a smaller screen, for example, a 100", then you can stop down the iris quite a bit, with the RS20, providing another incremental improvement in black levels.
That brings us to the RS20 vs. the RS10. I'll cover the basics right now, though I'm still working on the RS10 review.
Brightness is very close, in "best" mode (Cinema 2 on the RS20, Cinema 1 on the RS10), the difference is just a few percent. In brightest mode, the RS20 ended up slightly brighter, but, let's just say both projectors are pretty much equal in brightness.
There is still a notable difference in black levels favoring the RS20. On many mixed scenes, mostly dark, but with some bright areas, it's hard to tell the two apart, but on scenes that are pretty dark overall, the RS20 shows off its superior black level abilities. Between the two projectors (post calibration), I give a slight edge to the RS10 in showing off dark shadow detail. This isn't surprising, as the nearest thing to black is darker on a projector with better blacks, and therefore harder for the eye to discern. Call it a non-issue, adjusting Brightness by one number in either direction and one projector can go from being the better, to being the worse of the two in shadow detail.
While the RS20 is a tricky calibration, the RS10 without the CMS is much simpler, and I should point out, produces better results if you just do grayscale calibrations on both (no CMS with the RS20), you'll like the RS10's skin tones better, etc.
The RS20, though comes with the THX mode, which is probably more accurate in color handling than our RS10 calibration, but they are close. The RS10 after we calibrated, though has more pop to the image, we find THX to be a bit flat (probably technically correct, but a touch "boring" by comparison).
The RS10, of course costs a lot less, has the same 2 year warranty, and also supports an anamorphic lens solution with internal processing, however it does not offer an analog computer input, which may be a pain for some owners. If your computer outputs DVI or HDMI, though, it's not a problem.
My best take: I would have bought the RS2 to replace my RS1 when it came out, but it lacked the lumens needed for my room and screen. This time around, brightness is at parity, and I expect to have a new RS20 installed in my main theater later this month (Feb. 09).
Here are a few images showing black level, and also general differences - RS20 on the right:
JVC DLA-RS20 vs. Sony VPL-HW10
No contest in price, no contest in performance. The Sony is far less expensive, but black levels are not even remotely in the same league. Other lower cost projectors that do notably better black levels than this Sony (Epson UB projectors for example), still don't come close to the RS20. The JVC has a real but not great advantage in placement flexibility, but that's only an issue if the Sony won't work in your room and the RS20 will, and that's probably not more than 10% of potential buyers, and easy to figure out.
The Sony VPL-VW70 projector is the official competition for the JVC DLA-RS20, but we haven't reviewed that one yet (March 09, most likely). The Sony is also not a match in terms of brightness. As regular readers know, our old gear measured lumens higher than most other reviewers - 30%+ higher in some cases. Our new gear is in line with everyone else (more accurate). The Sony measured 836 lumens in best mode (old gear) which we translate to 597 lumens, not drastically less bright, but still well below the 775 calibrated numbers for the RS20.
The HW10 is the lowest cost LCoS 1080p projector out there. If you like the fine pixel structure of LCoS, want to avoid rainbow effect from DLP's, it is a worthy projector, but it's not playing in the same league as the RS20.
For your consideration, several images. Please note, to try to get the two projectors as close as possible in terms of brightness, I used different lamp modes and adjusted the JVC's manual iris. Since the Sony relys on a dynamic iris, if I shoot so that dark scenes are almost identical in brightness, then bright scenes make the Sony brighter, as you can see in the one daylight image. The Sony is on the left, JVC on the right:
I'll report more thoroughly about the JVC vs. the Sony VW70 review when I get that Sony in.
NEXT: JVC DLA-RS20 warranty